Thursday, August 7, 2008

Planners Want Montgomery Condo Redesign

Commissioners don’t want another Los Arboles

By Nao Braverman
Planning commissioners were almost evenly divided over plans for a condominium development in the heart of Ojai.
Montgomery Street developers Lance and Scott Smigel, now somewhat familiar faces at City Hall, approached the Planning Commission with another design proposal for Ojai Creek Village at 119 and 201 S. Montgomery St., near Libbey Park and the Ojai Art Center.
This time the plans for Craftsman-style, mixed-use units were downsized a notch and pulled back from the street to make more room for pedestrians. Architect Marc Whitman also added a plaza and entry for pedestrian access. Local resident Len Klaif was not appeased.
“This is a bit nicer dressed than the last proposal,” he said, “but does it fit better with Ojai? I don’t think so.”
At least seven designs prior, the Smigel brothers had looked into building a series of smaller, affordable units, but found the city ordinance did not allow for such density, they said. Later they returned with Santa Fe-style, million-dollar luxury condominiums. But planning commissioners rejected the designs, saying they looked too similar to the Smigel’s other Montgomery Street project, the highly criticized Los Arboles town houses.
Their most recent Craftsman-style condominium designs were rejected by the Planning Commission two weeks prior because they were too massive. But Commissioner Cortus Koehler was still not pleased with the redesign.
“I still think we are dealing with mass that is not compatible to the site,“ he said. “I like the treatment that has been done to the structures, but we still have a mass problem. I think it is still too big in too small of a space.”
Commissioner John Mirk agreed.
“I think it is still too big and too out of scale,” he said. “I think Marc has been working overtime and doing a really good job. I like the Craftsman style and the plaza is looking really good. But I think it is the wrong project for that area.”
Commissioners Susan Weaver and Steven Foster, however, said they were satisfied with the new preliminary designs. With some minor tweaking, they would be prepared to approve them, they said.
Commission Chair Paul Crabtree agreed. “I think the applicants really did listen,” he said. “I like what they did with the courtyard and the streetscape, that really satisfied my concerns.”
The commission voted 3 to 2 to allow the applicants to continue to work on their redesign and return for yet another meeting. Commissioners Mirk and Koehler cast the dissenting votes because they thought the project still looked too big.
In other planning news, commissioners approved the replacement of a barn, stable and corral at Ojai Valley School. They also agreed to the transformation of a residential dwelling into a dentist office at 207 Fox St.


Anonymous said...

Would suggest some sort of dedication effort for Libbey Park
from the Smigels, considering their
history with the Park. Los Arbeles cannot preempt Libbey Park even if the residents there find the noise
of the park bothersome.

Anonymous said...

Maybe a 'Craftsman' style recycle container, so the bums in the park can recycle their booze containers. Bums can be good earth citizens, if you only give them the tools!

Sespe Echo said...

The Smigels should replace Four Winds Preschool that was mercifully spared the dirty dirty noisy construction long term nail staining din dust of Lost Arboles.
Remember the mill yard across from the site,never washed until the memorial bike race and the dust from the dry clay in the street from the tractor cleats , day after day, smiling officials . Grin and bear it.
Not to have an educational facility per se, but having the right people coming regularly downtown.Young growing families who really care about the environment where their children stay. And no streets to cross to visit the cool park.
On the east side of South Montgomery, have the Bury-Kemper THEATER.
Parking is already there and imagine the fabulous after theatre dinners- Sardi's West?
The preschool can be a community rehearsal space also - a great addition to the theatre and community.
Dual use facilities make them much more sustainable.
Check out the research done by the Stewart Mott Foundation.
Think about it.
Thanks for your attention.